Pleasure vs. Happiness: Where to look for true happiness?

In our current, modern way of life, we are sometimes convinced (by the media, or by behaviours of other people) that happiness is correlative to success, and success is correlative to economic wealth. In other words, the wealthier we are, the more successful we are – hence the happier we are. If this equation was true, then devouting our lives to work and consumerism would lead to a happy and perfect life.

But this equation could not be farther away from reality. In our pursuit of happiness, it is important that we make a clear distinction between happiness and pleasure. Whereas there might be some fringe relation between the two, pleasure tends to be more of an ephemeral -and misguiding- sensation.

Let’s take the example of a person who buys a luxurious car.  As soon as they drive out of the car dealership, they will for sure feel a rush of adrenaline and a sense of pride and achievement running through their veins. At the end of the day, the luxurious car is a result of their hard work, more like a reward for their efforts. Will that feeling last forever? Unlikely. How long will it take, then, until the adrenaline and pride rushes wash off? Once that happens, this person will feel the need to reward themselves again. Maybe next time they’ll be treating themselves to an expensive dinner with champagne and caviar?

What this person obtained by buying the expensive car was pleasure: A momentary sensation, produced by external stimuli. Indeed, the car is not a source of happiness. In fact, neither the car nor any material possession can ever be considered as a potential source of pleasure because happiness is a state of mind. As such, happiness comes from within, and has the potential to outlast the effects of any pleasure.

Happiness is all about finding the goodness within ourselves, and absorbing the positive energy of our surroundings. To achieve happiness, you should not aim to satisfy your need to be happy with the pleasure from possessing material wealth. Look into your body, mind and soul first, and find out the necessary balance that will open the gates to happiness. In the words of Paramhansa Yogananda, “You must first establish it firmly within yourself and then, with an undying resolution always to be happy, go through the world seeking health, prosperity, and wisdom. You will find greater happiness if you seek success ever with a happy attitude than if you try to gain your heart’s desire with an unhappy mind, no matter what that desire may be.

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Arjuna Ardagh: About love and spiritual self respect

The following text was written by Arjuna Ardagh. He originally titled it “Why is it important to worship a woman”. But the learning that it leaves behind goes way beyond on the importance of worshipping a woman: It speaks a lot about our physical, mental, and spiritual integrity and self respect. Moreover, it speaks about love in its purest spiritual nature. It is an amazing read from all perspectives.

“Many many years ago, I went to Bali for a vacation, on my own. I met up with some other young travelers there and we hired a Jeep to take us on a tour of the island. We drove up right to the highest point of the island, where Tourists don’t usually go. Our guide took us to one of the most sacred temples. It was surrounded by a big brick wall with an ornate entrance. After removing our shoes and wrapping scarves around our heads, we stepped together through this entrance. Inside, there was a short courtyard and then another brick wall with another entrance. After more preparations of lighting incense and giving offerings, we stepped through the second entrance. We were allowed to go through the opening in one more wall, but that was it. All together there were ten walls around the deity in the middle. Hindus could go beyond the fourth wall. Devotees of that particular deity could go beyond the fifth wall, and so it went on. The only people allowed to approach the deity directly were those who had given their lives completely and totally to its worship. Everyone else could come a little closer, a little closer, to the innermost beauty, but not all the way to the center.

I’m not a big believer of the worship of statues, but there’s a beautiful symbolism to what I saw there, because a woman’s heart is just like that. At the essence of every woman’s heart is the divine feminine. It contains everything that has ever been beautiful, or lovely, or inspiring, in any woman, anywhere, at any time. The very essence of every woman’s heart is the peak of wisdom, the peak of inspiration, the peak of sexual desirability, the peak of soothing, healing love. The peak of everything. But it’s protected, for good reason, by a series of concentric walls. To move inwardly from one wall to the next requires that you intensify your capacity to devotion, and as you do so, you are rewarded with Grace. This is not something you can negotiate verbally with a woman. She doesn’t even know consciously how to open those gates herself. They are opened magically and invisibly by the keys of worship.

If you stand on the outside of the outermost wall, all you have available to you, like many other unfortunate men, is pornography. For $1.99 a minute, you can see her breasts, maybe her vagina, and you can stimulate yourself in a sad longing for deeper love.

Step through another gate, and she will show you her outer gift-wrapping. She’ll look at you with a certain twinkle in her eye. She’ll answer your questions coyly. She’ll give you just the faintest hint that there is more available.

Step through another gate with your commitment, with your attention, with the small seedlings of devotion, and she’ll open her heart to you more. She’ll share with you her insecurities, the way that she’s been hurt, her deepest longings. Some men will back away at this point. They realize that the price they must pay to go deeper is more than they are willing to give. They start to feel a responsibility. But for those few who step though another gate, they come to discover her loyalty, her willingness to stick with you no matter what, her willingness to raise your children, stick up for you in conversation, and, if you are lucky, even pick up your dirty socks now and then. And so it goes on. You’ve got the gist by now.

Somewhere around the second wall from the center, she casts the veils of her personality aside, and shows you that she is both a human being and also a portal into something much greater than that. She shows you a wrath that is not hers, but all women’s. She shows you a patience that is also universal. She shows you her wisdom. At this point you start to experience the archetypes of women, who have been portrayed as goddesses and mythological figures in every tradition.”

-Arjuna Ardagh

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano – Exercise and what?

The Romans wisely coined the phrase “Mens Sana in Corpore Sano”, which roughly translates as “Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body”.

The very base of this thought is not only that by doing exercise, our mind will stay clear of “noise” that allow us to ascertain our world in the most transparent way. Very deep inside, the very message that this phrase conveys is that a balanced life keeps our Mind and Body clear. Indeed, we must pay equal attention to our body and mind to achieve a plentiful Physical Existence. How so?

Vitruvian Man

Let’s start by speaking about the healthy Body. As science has correctly taught us, a healthy Body requires exercise, balanced nutrition, hygiene and regular examinations to make sure that it is always at its peak performance rate. If we only did this, would we automatically know that this healthy Body contains a healthy Mind?

Probably not per se. Despite of the fact that a healthy body provides an ideal environment for a healthy Mind to exist, there is also some maintenance that must be done to the Mind – and such maintenance comes in the shape of relaxation, meditation, and exercising the mind (i.e. thinking!), along with recreational activities and an adequate management of stress.

Being so, Without a healthy Mind, we cannot have a healthy body. Without a healthy Body, we cannot have a healthy Mind. Only achieving a healthy Body does not grant us a healthy Mind, nor vice versa. Life is all about balances – and this famous Roman saying is just a timeless reminder of that for all generations that were, are, and will be.